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Ron Strouse

Doylestown Mayor’s Report: Without regionalization, police costs would be higher

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As elected officials, we often say our first and foremost function is to provide for public safety.
I’ve defined that to include pedestrian safety and safety that comes from such things as speed humps, bike ways, street lighting and stop signs. However, at its core, public safety is clearly associated with our police.
Tonight, council is asked to approve a budget for the Central Bucks Regional Police Department that nets out in excess of $6.5 million. Among the three participating municipalities, Doylestown Borough’s portion of that budget will be almost $3.3 million. That $3.3 million represents just over 45% of the anticipated Doylestown General Fund Budget for 2022.
These figures are substantial. However, without the benefit of regionalization, which began in September 2015, our costs today would most likely be higher and the quality of police services would not be nearly as high.
From the very beginning, we expected regionalization to provide for better training and better equipment at a more economical cost than if we had gone it alone as an independent police department. I’ve been proud to be one of the borough’s representatives on the Central Bucks Regional Police Commission since inception and to have had the responsibility of chairing the commission in three different years.
Under the direction of Chief Knott, we have changed the culture of the department from paramilitary management to a culture of change through shared goals. Long before recent events put an additional spotlight on the nature of policing, the Central Bucks Regional Police Department and the commission were acting to implement goals toward community policing.
Five years ago, we took the lead on behalf of nine police departments in Bucks County to acquire a Department of Justice grant for body-worn-cameras. In 2022, we will replace those cameras and the accompanying software with new and improved technology.

Enhanced training has become a hallmark of our department, including de-escalation training, emotional survival training for law enforcement, and autism training for law enforcement. Department leadership have all attended the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development School.
Beyond training, Chief Knott has instituted positive internal changes and with support from the Police Foundation (which I chair) established a two-dog K-9 Corps. The chief has instituted mandatory foot patrols as well.
With staff support from Denise Spence, we have consistently and methodically identified grant opportunities to fund new initiatives that are important to our community. We are often the first in the region. With a DOJ grant and additional support from the Police Foundation, we are completing our first year with a Victim Assistance unit as the lead department with several neighboring departments.
We have just been awarded a DOJ grant to implement high-tech de-escalation training for ourselves and other Bucks County police departments. We are about to complete our new Central Bucks Regional Police Headquarters and will finish requirements to be fully accredited. Accreditation is a progressive way of helping departments improve overall performance.
Police work is judged by police conduct today. History matters less. There is no opportunity to relax or take pride in past accomplishments, although we certainly build on those accomplishments. There is much more to be done and Central Bucks Regional Police Department, like so many other local departments, struggles to diversify its staff.
Nevertheless, I believe we are spending resources wisely and leveraging them to provide a level of public safety and leadership in public safety deserving of respect. It has been an honor to be part of the process over these past years.


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